At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Back in the early nineteenth century, two brothers went into business together selling smoking products.
Hendrik and Bouwe Taconis moved their factory to Leeuwarden in 1860 after several years, and happily started using images of a famous monument in the Frisian capital as marketing illustrations, continuing so even after they quarreled and split the company in two circa 1913.
Hence the name of Hendrik Taconis' tobacco factory: Tabaksfabriek De Oldehove.

Frisian style pipe tobacco was, in that day and age, considered healthy, and even up to the beginnings of the twentieth century was marketed to all ages including juveniles, who not only worked in the tobacco factories, but frequently featured on advertising posters for the many products then current - stogies, snuff, rolling tobacco, matured pipe tobaccos, etcetera.
Vibrant children happily smoking are so much more appealing than grayed and toothless antiques or naked savages!
Just the ticket for selling a "healthy" product, aimed at clean people with civilized tastes!

What set the so-called 'Echte Friesche Heerenbaai' ("real Frisian gentlemen's 'bay' tobacco") apart from other smoking products was the quality and purity of the ingredients: strictly leaf exported via the Chesapeake, mostly air cured (Maryland) along with some flue-cured tobacco.
No flavourings. No added sugars. No adulterants. Solid stuff.
And consequently, it naturally had to be good for you.

Baai Tabak ("Bay Tobacco") is still made from such tobaccos, although the sourcing is now world-wide. The tobacco is cut into thin ribbons, set aside for a few days after blending to homogenize the taste, simply packaged, and shipped.
The flavour is mild, slightly nutty, and reminiscent of similar ribbon-cut products, though veering away from the Virginia side.


The Taconis brothers were probably the most well-known manufacturers of "bay" tobaccos at the beginning of the twentieth century. By the end of the twentieth century, their enterprises had been swallowed up into Douwe Egberts and, I believe, Royal Theodorus Niemeijer , both of whom still produced their own bay tobaccos (Coopvaert and Voortrekker respectively).

[Niemeijer is also the manufacturer of Clan Pipe Tobacco, a famous blend whose delightful aroma is the signature smell of Holland for many people.]

Between Van Nelle, Douwe Egberts, and Niemeijer, most of the small independent Dutch factories had been absorbed by the seventies.
Such names Louis Dobbleman of Rotterdam, F. Lieftinck of Groningen, Roelsma, Simon van Brakel en zoon, and others, had long ceased operations when Gallaghers sold Niemeijer (which had absorbed Van Rossem and Grunno) to Rothmans in 1990.

Sarah Lee, meanwhile, had acquired Douwe Egberts in 1978 and Van Nelle in 1989.

In 1998, the tobacco brands of both companies (now called Douwe Egberts Van Nelle - DEVN) were sold to Imperial Tobacco. The main pipe-tobacco brand represented in this acquisition was Amphora, most other products being rolling tobacco (both dark shag and blonde English style) as well as factory made cigarettes.

To the best of my knowledge, neither 'Echte Friesche Heeren Baai' nor most other Dutch pipe tobaccos are available in America anymore.
Imperial Tobacco does not export to the States.

You may be able to find Sail, Troost, and Vier Heeren Baai, which are all Niemeijer products manufactured by Orlik (part of 'Scandinavian Tobacco Group') since British-American Tobacco sold the brands in 2007.
For a while they too were unavailable, due to the hissy fit that B.A.T. threw five years ago, but along with other famous brands they are slowly coming back.

Personally, I've been enjoying various blends by Samuel Gawith, Kohlhase & Kopp, J. F. Germain & Son, G. L. Pease, and Cornell & Diehl for several years now, as well as the occasional McClelland product.
I do not miss most Dutch tobaccos - certainly not the two blends from Niemeijer on which I started (possibly 'Scotch Mixture', with heather honey and whisky, and 'Irish Mixture', with similar tarting-up - traumatic memories, though no detailed recollection) - but once in a blue moon I like to recapture part of the past by smoking McClelland's Virginia Woods, which charmingly echoes the old-fashioned 'Bay' ribbons.


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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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